Cleveland, Ohio – Doodles in my notebook after Brown lost 23-20 in Atlanta:
1. Given Jacobi Brissett’s rocky second half and harrowing back-to-back plays near the end of the game, Deshaun Watson’s drumbeat would sound louder than John Adams on his debut as he bangs his drums from the stands of Old Cleveland Stadium. Watson still has seven more games in suspension.
2. I’ll put aside the question of how well and how fast Watson will play when he returns on December 4. That would be 23 months since he last played in a regular NFL game. But the Browns have more problems than Brisette.
3. Brown’s defense allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter in Atlanta. Before coming up with an explanation of “The Browns didn’t have Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, and Taven Bryan,” can we do some research? With these starters, Brown allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter for Carolina’s Baker Mayfield. They allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter (14 in the final 1:55) for Joe Flacco and the Jets. Only against Pittsburgh (3 points) did Brown’s defense play a good fourth-quarter turn.
4. It’s not just QB play. Defense was supposed to be the team’s strength, at least until Watson played. But what did we see from defensive coordinator Joe Woods and his men? They can’t stop. And they still have to face the QB elite.
5. Consider this game: Atlanta had 75-73-64 yard hits. That’s 212 yards in the fourth quarter! You know how many passes Atlanta have completed on these drives? One. This pass covered 42 yards (another cover blown). But the other 170 yards lately were on the floor.
6. The Atlanta star running back Cordarelli Patterson had only one carry in the second half. He was dealing with an eccentric knee. Uncut Ball State producer Caleb Huntley has only had one carry this season. He rushed for 56 yards in 10 gigs, including a TD. Tyler Allgear was rushing 84 yards. They even put defensive/backward man Avery Williams in the game and he had a 21-yard run.
7. The point is, the guys running over Brown for 202 yards were mostly backups. So it’s not as if Brown’s reserve on the defensive line is facing the best player on the Atlanta roster. QB Marcus Mariota completed seven passes throughout the day. Nothing deceptive about the Atlanta game plan in the second half: Run for the ball until they stop us.
8. So this is about more than just calling Kevin Stefansky’s play, which I didn’t like. I also think he needs to look at things differently. “We wanted to score 7 (points) in the red zone… We didn’t come out with points and that’s on me,” Stefanski said of his run in fourth and third near the goal line.
9. On another review: Brown should understand what kind of team they have – and take three points early in the game. Kick the field goal. Yes, fans of analytics will say, “Go for it.” But it all depends on your QB – and on your insult. Back in the last season, Brown’s side had problems running the ball into the end zone near the goal line.
10. But the bottom line is that Brown’s defense must take shape. It’s up to Woods and Stefanski to make it happen.
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